Disney's ABC TV unit to lay off 2 percent of workers -source

LOS ANGELES Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:59am EDT

LOS ANGELES Aug 21 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's ABC television unit on Wednesday will begin laying off about 175 people, or 2 percent of its workforce, to adjust to changes in technology and viewing habits, a person familiar with the decision said.

The move was prompted by a companywide review to explore cutbacks in jobs Disney no longer needs, either because of improvements in technology or redundancies following a string of major acquisitions in the past few years. Reuters first reported on the internal review in January.

The new layoffs will occur across the Disney/ABC Television Group, which includes the ABC broadcast network as well as the Disney and ABC Family cable channels, the source said. Most of the cuts will come in technical operations, such as broadcast engineering, and at eight ABC-owned stations across the United States.

An ABC statement did not confirm the numbers of job cuts but said the unit, which employs about 7,600 people, had reviewed its businesses and decided to restructure to improve operations.

"As technological advances continue to alter the competitive landscape and viewer habits, it's incumbent upon us to stay ahead of the curve," an ABC spokesman said in the statement.

Other jobs may become available as Disney focuses on new technologies such as its Watch ABC app, which offers live streaming of the network's programming on mobile devices, the source said.

In April, Disney cut 150 jobs at its movie studio, 150 at its newly acquired Lucasfilm unit, and an undisclosed number in its consumer products division, sources told Reuters. Its ESPN sports network began eliminating 300 to 400 jobs in May, but a source said at the time that those cutbacks were unrelated to the broader review.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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